Fans attending Comic-Con in San Diego this weekend may get more exciting and titillating news, but for the larger pop culture world seeking intriguing teases of superhero and comic book-based movies, there won’t be anything more compelling than this first look at the Black Panther sequel.
Based on its first trailer, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is doing nothing to avoid — or attempt to cleverly explain — King T’Challa being gone because of Chadwick Boseman’s death two years ago.
Director Ryan Coogler is steering right into it, which should be expected since Marvel decided not to re-cast T’Challa and the entire cast and crew dealt with losing Boseman throughout this entire project. And Wakanda Forever could pack quite an emotional punch if the complete film matches the resonance of the trailer.
I don’t know how many have ever been brought to tears by a trailer, but I certainly felt a stirring in my chest upon hearing the poignant “No Woman, No Cry” (by Tems, covering Bob Marley) with solemn images of Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, and Letitia Wright mourning the loss of their friend, son, and brother.
But the Wakanda Forever trailer also promises some spectacle, best displayed by the first look at undersea warrior king Namor (Tenoch Huerta). One of Marvel’s oldest characters, Namor has been long overdue for his big-screen debut. How Marvel was going to work him in — as a villain or in a standalone film — has always been the question. Making him the antagonist in a Black Panther story appears to be the right match.
A big issue for fans could be the reinterpretation of Namor for the big screen, basing him in Mayan culture rather than his comic book origins of Atlantis. I love giving the character this background and cultural distinction, if for no other reason than to set him apart from DC’s Aquaman. But it also provides a fantastic opportunity for costume design and world-building, which the first Black Panther did so well.
Another big question that Wakanda Forever poses is who will take over the Black Panther mantle? If anyone thought that the suit might stay empty, the end of the trailer dispels that notion. Someone is definitely flashing the claws. And a female appears to be wearing the costume. That would rule out M’Baku (Winston Duke).
T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Wright), took over as Black Panther in Marvel Comics when the hero was incapacitated. So that seems like the natural move here. But other possibilities could be Nakia (Nyong’o) or the leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye (Danai Gurira). What about Queen Ramonda (Bassett)? Probably too old, but that could be fun.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters Nov. 11.